Wild horses benefit from contraceptive vaccine
FOUR PAWS International US office sends tranquilizer darts to help horses in the Danube Delta
FOUR PAWS International, is helping to preserve the 500 wild horses currently living in the Letea Forest in Romania. The Letea Forest, which is situated in the northeastern part of the Danube Delta in Romania, is the second largest wetland in Europe.
The tranquilizer darts, which come from PNEU-DART, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, enable FOUR PAWS to strategically and humanely control the horse population, which otherwise would be controlled through governmental killing practices.
Once tranquilized, FOUR PAWS veterinarians administer the contraceptive vaccine to the horses. Any injuries are also treated. In addition, blood and fecal samples are taken, to allow for further hormonal studies, and the horse’s teeth are inspected for age approximation. FOUR PAWS uses these studies for publication in veterinarian science journals.
Photos of the horses are taken for easier identification purposes. The horses are then provided with individually-numbered ear tags, which allow the FOUR PAWS team to later (2-3 weeks) identify the horses, and administer, through darts, contraceptive booster vaccines. The ear tags are also important for re-administering the contraceptive vaccines each year in order to maintain their effectiveness.
The contraceptive vaccine, which blocks fertilization for one year, is a harmless, non-invasive alternative to spaying, and is given to as many mares as possible.
According to USA Country Director, Wim DeKok, “As only a certain number of horses can live on the existing land and resources, it is necessary to control the birth rate of the whole population in order to avoid malnutrition or starvation. This vaccine has been used in the U.S. for about 20 years, having a high rate of success.”
Robert Hengl, Head of the Competence Center Horses at FOUR PAWS International, states that the birth control program has already proven to be beneficial. “We have reached and topped our initial goal of 100 vaccines and 49 booster shots! Our next goal is to increase the number in the next season and continue with booster injections”.